A stationary bed. A shower. Another shower. It’s’ not exactly the Ritz but it might as well be. Only 2 smelly blokes to a room. Doors don’t open till 07:30, so you could always have another shower.
It’s free play this morning. Various expeditions are launched. The adjoining blogs at the bottom of each post are especially worth reading today. I am now suffering severe back problems and am trying to follow as easy an itinerary as I can get away with. I stick with Steve. We are treated to a morning with three of the most exquisite Italian hosts. Steve’s business partner’s daughter introduces us to the chefs from an exclusive hotel on the far side of the Grand Canal, opposite the fish market. We spend an hour with them in the market, looking at food, talking about Italian cuisine, and enjoying the canal. Then we are taken round this “hotel”. It’s really just a very posh house. Like really posh. Rooms are north of £1000 a night if you fancy it.
It’s then back through a rather more heavily populated Venice than last night. After several helpings of spritzers outside Domus Civica we are done. But not for the day. Our next train is a high speed Pendolino through the Apennines to Rome. Much of the ride is in a tunnel, but there are fine views of Tuscany, I think. It’s all gone very Romanesque out of the window anyway. The scenery and buildings become particularly interesting as we approach the capital.
In Rome we make the mistake of believing what the internet said. It is claimed that there are left luggage facilities at Tiburtina, Rome’s whopping new mega station on the edge of town, from where we will catch tonight’s sleeper to Milan. Our in-train passes through there so we decide to get off early. There aren’t any lockers or luggage counters. It takes us half an hour to come to terms with this inescapable fact. We then have to go to Termini, where the train was going anyway. There we march around in circles trying to locate left luggage office. Once done, we then hurry off in order to get the train to the Vatican so we can notch off another domain name. I then, on consultation with anyone left in the party still capable of making rational decisions, have to make a painful executive call. The Vatican is cancelled. We just cant get there and then to the delicatessen to pick up the picnic in time. Have I told you about the picnic ?. There’s 700 euros of food wine and grappa waiting at some place near Circo Massimo.
We change tack and head for the deli. Everyone is feeling a bit down beat at the loss of the Vatican. We’ve all also eaten a lifetime’s worth of salami and cheese over the last 2 weeks. And now I am dragging them off to some fancy deli and spending over 500 quid on a ruddy picnic. We get there. Volpetti’s is it’s name. It’s a tourist attraction in it’s own right. A shrine to Italian food. And we have an awful lot of food. Tension mounts but with support from my management team we pull through and concoct a plan on how we are to get 3 humongous polystyrene cooler boxes full of salami, cheese and antipasta and a massive bag of bread back to Tiburtina station, while also collecting all the bags from somewhere else. We also ask them to make up a picnic out of some of this stuff so we can eat some of it now. We are sent to a specific place to eat it, not the road side park that some want to just collapse in, but half a mile away right up a hill. I am really getting it in the neck now. Or I would be if I could be bothered waiting to listen.
And then. We arrive at this spot, and the most spectacular view of Rome is spread out before us. The park is empty, there is a bench, the evening sunshine is superb. We have a couple of bottles of sensational Italian wine and a platter of the finest meats cheeses and breads to help it go down. Paul takes what we all consider to be the definitive group portrait of the entire trip. Everyone gets a moment to reflect on yet another mind-boggling day that started having coffee watching the Venetians stroll to work, and is closing as the Sun sets over The Eternal City. And everyone shuts the fuck up about how much food we’ve bought.
After the picnic, Steve and Lloyd return to Volpetti’s and cab it back to the station with the food. The rest of us walk down to the Circo Massimo and catch the metro one stop to go see the Colosseum. I ain’t never seen it you see. I haven’t been disappointed once on the trip so far, but alas I am as I climb out of the metro. For Pete’s sake guys, at least roof over the bloody road. We have several Germanic sized beers at appalling expense, Darren leaves his hat, and we return to get the bags.
At Tiburtina the lads are waiting on the mountain of food. We manage to get it all aboard and the usual formalities are performed, this time with grappa. It’s been a big day, again. My only worry now is, will we get to Milan Garibaldi in time to change to Centrale and catch the train to Tirano for what is meant to be the biggest day of the lot. If not I’ll have a shed load of food and a fat lump of miserable blokes on my hands. We have about half an hour to play with. The average delay on sleepers so far is over an hour. Come on Trenitalia, you can do it!.
Start: In a dorm in Venice
Train 29 13:57 Venice to Rome
Train 30 23:04 Rome to Milan sleeper
Finish: Somewhere in Italy
Also on this day
Paul’s Photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_clarke/sets/72157634692917402/
Lloyd’s Blog http://www.lloydshepherd.com/2013/07/18/day-13-very-lucky-for-some/
Darren’s Blog http://blog.darrenf.org/2013/07/the-great-circular-venetian-shanks-pony.html and http://blog.darrenf.org/2013/07/hats-off.html
Dave’s Blog http://disorientateddave.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/picnic-in-park.html